Nick paused, the spotlight in his hands superfluous for the time being. The balding gaffer was on the stage below him, hitting the mark as if he had aspirations on treading the boards himself. The guy was the most antisocial stage hand Nick had ever met. Or rather…not met. He hadn’t even seen the guy’s face. He was always turned away, working on something or other. But the guy had a weird sixth sense, like he had eyes in the back of his head. He always knew what was going on backstage.
Nick felt superior from his perch in the catwalks. They were the only two in the theater at the moment. Normally that would mean chatting and joking as they worked… but not the old bald guy. Nick didn’t even know his name. He walked among the other stage hands as if invisible to them, which was probably the way he liked it.
Nick tried to think of something to say, something that might actually spark a conversation. The best part of his job was the camaraderie he felt with his coworkers, but this guy just sucked the life out of everything.
Instead, Nick shone the spotlight directly onto the gaffer’s balding head. He was ready with several clever comebacks about lens flare and trying to balance the light off the guy’s head, but there was no response at all. The guy didn’t even turn around.
Then his feet shifted slightly. It was like a dance move, where his hips and legs rotated while his torso remained stationary.
Woah… he’s pretty good. I wonder if he was a dancer before he became a gaffer?
The result looked painfully unreal, with the lower half of the man’s body facing backwards while the top half remained facing out to the nonexistent audience.
Next the torso turned, between the waist and the neck. Nick winced, examining the gaffer’s chest to see if it was some kind of optical illusion or trick. The thumbs gave it away… the thumbs definitively proved that the man’s torso was facing the back of the stage.
His head still faced the empty theater.
“Dude! That’s some trick. How did–”
Nick shivered involuntarily. The gaffer’s head rotated slowly, but the bald spot remained perfectly centered in a halo of sparse hair. There was no face. The ears were oddly symetrical, and the front of his head looked exactly like the back.
Nick fell. A thousand times he’d climbed up and down the catwalks and half the time he didn’t bother with a safety harness. This time, he did. He dangled above the stage, the monster or apparition or whatever it was only a few feet from him.
At first, it didn’t move. Then it slowly reversed the process, rotating first his hips and legs, then his torso, and finally his head. Still on his mark, he stood there for a long moment before walking directly into the sea of empty seats, his image shrinking as if he was getting farther and farther away even though the theater wasn’t that big.
It took Nick twenty minutes to untangle himself and get safely back to the stage. His fingers were cold and refused to function. He couldn’t look up because the spotlight he’d turned on was shining directly into his eyes.
It took him twenty days to find another job.
This was written for the Flash! Friday Micro-Fiction prompt that is the picture. Unfortunately, it is supposed to be MICRO flash with a minuscule limit of 200 words. Still, this story popped into my head and I had to write it. (Word count 560 words) Now, I get to try again, and see if I can make the actual limit.
Karl hit his mark.
Two hundred performances and he never once missed.
He never once forgot his lines.
He never once got stage fright.
He never once had an audience.
“Whatcha doin’ Karl?” drawled Scooter, the producer’s errand boy.
“None of your business,” Karl answered, far more brusquely than he intended. Scooter didn’t deserve to be his whipping boy.
Karl stared down at the mark. It was his tape there, he’d been the one that placed it in exactly the spot for the expertly handsome and all so superior wonderboy to hit in every performance. And hit it, wonderboy did. Hit it and wowed the audience every time.
Wonderboy was the perfect choice for the part.
It was the part Karl played every night, knowing he could do it even better. Two years ago, he’d proved it to himself, rehearsing until the words flowed from him naturally, until he dreamed as the character dreamed.
But you’ll never get a part if you never try out.